When it comes to building a powerful tech brand, one doesn’t have to look much further than the folks who brought us mixed-martial arts fighters beating the tar out of each other in steel cages.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) stands out as an impressive case study in the annals of brand marketing. Founded in the early ‘90s, the UFC has rapidly become one of the most popular sporting events in the world, with its matches seen in more than 150 countries worldwide. And the sport owes its brisk growth more to clever brand marketing than head-butting.
While your tech business probably isn’t as exciting (or violent) as a UFC bout, you’ll still need to create and maintain an easily identifiable brand image if you intend on growing your business. Here are some things you need to consider when building a brand.
- Make a difference – Before you even think about creating a logo, a brochure, a website and other marketing tools, you need to define your tech business and how it differs from the competition. Some marketing folks refer to this as your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition. This means how you intend to position the company so that it has a discernable impact on the minds of your customers. Without positioning, you might as well flush all of your marketing dollars down the drain.
- Make it memorable – An organization’s brand is only is good as how clearly people remember it and what it stands for. For example, the Disney brand immediately conjures up safe, fun and wholesome family entertainment. Or Fedex signifies reliable overnight mail service. The key point is that you want the sight or sound of your tech company’s name, product or service to trigger a favorable reaction from the customer who will buy it instead of what your competitors are offering. This is referred to as brand loyalty, which sometimes allows companies to charge higher prices even though the product/service is essentially the same as their competitors.
- Be the first – Companies that are the first to create a successful positioning in a market niche are known to have first-mover advantage. This is an important distinction in an industry that will soon have many competitors. If your company is able to sustain its brand in a burgeoning industry --- i.e. computer tablets—then it’s easier to fend off competitive pressures.
- Don’t rest on your laurels – Brands, like people, eventually grow old and stodgy. Every now and then, a brand needs to be rejuvenated, in order to modify its market position to accommodate changing consumer tastes. Of course, this rebranding strategy sometimes backfires, such as when the Coca-Cola Co. launched its New Coke and was swiftly met with consumer backlash.
- Not a magic bullet – Creating a new brand to replace a badly beaten one is sometimes an exercise in futility. For example, one Wall Street brokerage firm created a furor a few years ago after an SEC probe found that the firm had been engaging in illegal trading practices. The SEC investigation resulted in a stiff fine against the firm which soon led to a mass exodus of clients. Going into damage-control mode, the firm quickly changed its name, installed a new executive team and made other moves to help restore confidence among its nervous clients. But despite those efforts, the firm was soon forced to shutter its doors.
The author is Marc Weinstein, CEO of Ascent Communications (www.ascentcomm.net), an integrated marketing agency specializing in creating results-driven communications for technology companies.